I see the little black tadpoles in my pond every year how do they get from tiny little tadpoles to full grown frogs? Troy – Demotte, IN
Anyone that has had a pond or is near water has probably heard the call of the bull frog. The low call heard that keeps us up at night, is from the male frog during mating season. Soon after, up to 20,000 eggs are laid and tiny tadpoles appear and begin their journey to adulthood.
Tadpoles will begin feeding on algae or other forms of plant life in their area but may also eat eggs or compete for food against other species of frogs if necessary. Since the tadpole stage offers little defense mechanism, many of the tadpoles are not able to survive, though not all are lost as there are a couple ways they are able to escape danger. Coloration makes it easy for them to blend in with surroundings. When you first walk up to the pond you may not notice them right away. At least not until you disturb them and they begin to swim. This movement is defense number two. Their small mass and quick tail allows them to swim hastily away from the opposing threat. If by some chance their tail can’t get out of the way quick enough, have no fear, the tadpole is able to just grow a new one.
As the tadpole continues to growth it will begin to develop eyes, gills, mouth and teeth to continue feeding. After some rapid growth spurts the tadpole can reach up to 6” in length before growing any legs. This process generally takes up to 3 years to complete.
Finally the legs begin to grow. The back legs start first and then the front legs. Now the tadpoles become more mobile, they lose their gills, develop lungs and a hard skeleton. At this point you can see the tadpole begin to take the shape of a frog. The last thing to go is the tail.
The growth process continues as the frog can now feed on insects and other tasty treats that may pass by until the coming spring when they too will join in the spring time calling.